James Murdoch cuts ties with British press

By Ian Dunt

James Murdoch has stepped down from boards involved with British newspapers, according to reports.

In a complicated move, he withdrew from the boards of two News Corp subsidiaries – News Group Newspapers, which published the News of the World and the Sun, and Times Newspapers Ltd, which publishes the Times and the Sunday Times.

He has not stepped down as chairman as News International, however, where there will still be pressure from shareholders for him to take a step back to limit the reputational damage from the phone-hacking scandal.

The news, which was reported by the Evening Standard, causes confusion among campaigners, who had thought for a moment that they may have secured their biggest scalp so far.

Reports suggest Tom Mockridge, who replaced Rebekah Brooks as News International chief executive in July, will take over the roles.

"James Murdoch doesn't step back from NI. He remains chairman," a News International spokesman said.

Labour media spokesperson Harriet Harman commented: "“James Murdoch should make clear why he has stepped down in this way.

"This does not lessen in any way the need for him to answer questions or take responsibility for what happened on his watch. Furthermore, the concerns about whether he is a fit and proper person to run BSkyB remain.”